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Everything Happens for a Reason

And Other Lies I've Loved
Narrated by: Kate Bowler
Length: 4 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,204 ratings)

Regular price: $21.00

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

"A meditation on sense-making when there's no sense to be made, on letting go when we can't hold on, and on being unafraid even when we're terrified." (Lucy Kalanithi)

"Belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal." (Bill Gates)

Named one of the best books of the year by Real Simple

Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God's disapproval. At 35, everything in her life seems to point toward "blessing". She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.

Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with "a surge of determination". Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you "can't do" and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.

Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, megachurch preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live. 

Praise for Everything Happens for a Reason:

“I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping - she’s like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate’s story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for?” (Glennon Doyle, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising)

©2018 Kate Bowler (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping - she's like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate's story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for? Everything Happens for a Reason is art in its highest form, and Kate Bowler is a true artist - with the pen, and with her life." (Glennon Doyle, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising)

"Bowler's dry humor and raw, personal accounts help make thinking about our common fate bearable." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Bowler's lovely prose and sharp wit capture her struggle to find continued joy after her [stage IV cancer] diagnosis. This poignant look at the unpredictable promises of faith will amaze readers." (Publishers Weekly)

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Exceptionally human

I have never felt more understood. Kate’s capacity for articulating the human experience in dealing with “life in-between” is exceptional. It was all I could do not to weep the entire time. She has so beautifully captured what it is like to simultaneously need to be weary, while needing to also summon the strength to carry on. I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone dealing with prolonged illness, medical mysteries, dying, not dying, living, not living, or one who loves others who are. Basically everyone.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Brutiful

I’m broken open after listening to Kate. This was beautiful and painful. I laughed too loud and cried too much all the way through. I’m so grateful Kate Bowler was willing to share herself and her experience with the world.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Life is absurdly hard and pretending it isn’t is exhausting

Kate Bowler’s memoir is gripping, succinct, and well narrated. She invites the listener in with her dynamic and articulate voice. Her voice can and will take you to the brink of tears and laughter.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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The pain is real.

So inspirational, I'm hungry and I can't get full is exactly how feel also when you lose someone that you are close to. I hear het struggles on the other side and they really are not that much different from one another. We want eternity with the people we love

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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An Author You'll Want to Hold in your Arms

What made the experience of listening to Everything Happens for a Reason the most enjoyable?

The author of Everything.....is also the reader and no one else could have read with the humanity that she does.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kate is more than a character in her book. She is so well developed that the reader both laughs with her and cries with her.

What does Kate Bowler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I first heard about the book when Kate Bowler was interviewed on NPR. I loved her at once and knew I wanted to hear her read the book herself. When I checked Audible and found that she was Everything....'s narrator, I bought it immediately and have already listened to it twice!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I finished nearly all of the book the first day I had it. I expect to listen to it often through the years to come.

Any additional comments?

I will be referring to her "Appendix" sections often. The "Never Say" list, ie."Everything happens for a reason," etc. is a must read. Hugs, presents, chocolate, "you are wonderful"s are the things I would like to give Kate Bowler for her brave and amazing book!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Insightful, meaningful, humorous

Worth it for the appendices alone on what not to say and what to say/do to cancer patients

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful

This book is beautifully written and makes you really think about and appreciate your life. I love the advice at the end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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honest and insightful

I loved it. She is refreshingly honest and touching. Glad the book was narrated by the author herself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A plus /smiley face, Kate will understand this....

Would you consider the audio edition of Everything Happens for a Reason to be better than the print version?

Odd question, did not read the book however hearing this book from Kates tender voice is to experience Kate as she is a wife, a mom, a daughter a friend, a person of painful truths.

What other book might you compare Everything Happens for a Reason to and why?

Her book is unique.

Which scene was your favorite?

how can an undesirable life changing event have a favorite moment? these questions are mostly inappropriate for this particular audible book. fine if I had to say , it would be Kate giving herself permission to use curse words promising God she will stop after lent. Good luck with that Kate. seriously WTF.......

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

the whole book was moving. Kates transparency

Any additional comments?

"Aging is a F@#$%!ing privilege".

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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She Gets It! And so can you...

I regret the veracity if the fact that a person must have to go through something big (like facing death and/or the body’s failure to function or live our most/ many of the seemingly normal pleasures of life... Think to find a life partner (Believe me juvenile sickness does jeopardize this for most! Particularly, “hear” her messages. My favorite (message to loved ones), copies from another: “Show up, and shit up.” We all are fortunate just to be alive and breathing! Just try to imagine it from the side of instantly, or gradually, losing all you know and love.... if you are stuck (and, just to let you know — most “normal” people are — Kate Bowler’s awesome exploration of our universal human frailty and true universal absurdities of our form and function will get you understanding this awkwardness in no time :-)

Sincerest thank you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-11-19

Annoying voice. Demands understanding in others.

The writer demands to be respected and understood. Surely it's better to acknowledge even if the wrong thing is said?

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  • Mitchell Hunt
  • 04-11-19

Heart breaking but inspiring

Kate does a great job of telling an authentic story. Warts and all. It encourages me to be more authentic myself.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-17-19

Heavy handed

I was really interested in hearing the argument/critique against ‘everything happens for a reason’ and therefore enjoyed the first part of this book. The prosperity gospel was also a jaw dropping revelation. Who knew there were people out there who thought that way.

However, I really struggled with the ‘cancer’ section. The author is so heavy handed with her description of the privations and challenges. So much whinging. Could she not find/notice/share any heartwarming vignettes? She just clobbers her readers with the awfulness of it all.


It also felt like a huge amount of humble bragging about her husband and family and friends and acquaintances. She tries to sound self-deprecating but it came across to me as self-indulgent angsting.

A sense of humour would have leavened the relentless complaining and probably made me feel more sympathetic.

If you buy this book bring some gaviscon

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  • Carly Hopgood
  • 07-07-18

just so... real.

so touching and genuine. also really helpful in dealing with grieving people. I'll certainly do it differently in the future.

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  • Marion
  • 03-08-18

Not what I thought

Thought this was about how/why everything happens for a reason, the reason behind it.
But it was her life story and journey of going through cancer... sad- but interesting? Not sure!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-19-18

Compelling

Her truth spoken so well for a book she shouldnt have had to write